Burch: Athens of the South needs enlightening

Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

Nashville is known as the "Athens of the South."

But for all its wonderful buildings, art, philosophy, poetry and plays, Athens had some very nasty skeletons rattling around in its closets. Why? Because only the Athenian elite were truly "equals" in a "democracy" that relegated other people as serfs or slaves. Nashville also has serious black marks on its history, because of the often-reprehensible way the people in power once treated Native Americans, blacks and everyone else with slightly darker skin.

Surely we have "come a long way baby," as the Virginia Slims ads used to say. But do we still have a considerable way to go, in terms of treating everyone as equals?

Athenian and American slaves were not allowed to choose their jobs and generally required someone else’s permission to marry. Today slavery has thankfully been outlawed everywhere in the United States, and yet right here in Nashville some of the powers-that-be (or perhaps the “powers-that-wannabe”) still attempt to limit the employment and marriage rights of non-heterosexuals. So it seems we still have a "long way to go, baby."

The recent meeting of businessmen and state politicians at LifeWay, a Southern Baptist agency headquartered here in Nashville, sounds very suspicious to me. What happened to separation of church and state? Are the interests of religion and business aligning to once again deny people basic freedoms and human rights?

The LifeWay meeting included William Morgan of John Bouchard & Sons, Lee Beaman of Beaman Automotive Group, Stan Hardaway of Hardaway Construction, and state representatives Glen Casada and Jim Gotto. They met behind closed doors to oppose adding four words to Metro's nondiscrimination policy: "sexual orientation, gender identity."

Morgan described the proposed changes as part of the "homosexual agenda," but of course gays only want the same basic rights as everyone else: to be able to live, work and marry as they choose, not as other people command. What happened to the idea that all human beings are created equal? Did it fly out the window the minute the doors closed? Were minds also closed — to the ideals of equality, fairness and justice?

After the meeting, Gotto told reporters the bill could have a “chilling effect” on Tennessee businesses. But, of course, Nashvillians once complained that treating minorities as equals would be “bad for business” and “too expensive.” Some people always prefer their money to other peoples' lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary,” at www.thehypertexts.com.

61 Comments on this post:

By: BenDover on 2/3/11 at 11:29

Oh geeezzz... I just don't have the energy.

By: bnakat on 2/4/11 at 2:35

Mr. Burch apparently has a psychological or emotional fixation on sexual perversion. His literary credentials fail to make his sophistry any less flawed. Homosexual unions are not a basic human right. To label such associations as marriage is to abandon the original purpose and sanctity of this bond that is intended exclusively for one man and one woman.

In an earlier effort on this subject, Mr. Burch exhibited his contempt for the Bible by using anachronisms, and injecting his totally subjective conclusions as to what a loving God would, or would not say or do.

In the current offering he seeks to obfuscate by equating special homosexual "rights" and racism. Such is a grave injustice to Blacks, who certainly suffered unjust discrimination.

He cites a meeting between businessmen and politicians at a venue that displeases him. Since it was a Baptist agency, he worries about the separation of church and state. Here is one of the liberals' favorite misunderstandings of the U.S. Constitution.

One could easily eviscerate this diatribe, but why expend the time? With few exceptions, those who post on this board march in the Progressive way, and find a true yoke-fellow in Mr. Burch.

@Revo-lou: I see that you are again posting on most days. I read virtually all posts, but rarely comment. (Upsets Loner, D7, et al.) You seem as obstinate as ever. That is one of the few areas where we are similar. You are still able to present a cogent argument, so maybe you can give some pointers to a few of the more virulent ones posting now.

By: Loner on 2/4/11 at 5:40

Good morning, Nashville!

Once again, Mr. Burch has penned a thoughtful and timely letter. I agree with his observations and conclusions.

Naming names is good. Beaman wants the automotive contracts, Hardaway wants the construction contracts. Gotto and Cascada are working the bigots for votes, that's their base. As we can see, these people did not attend the Bible-Blathering Baptist's meeting to preserve our society from the ravages of a "homosexual agenda"; no, they went to the hate-fest for their own selfish reasons.

The anti-GBLT boys can spare us the "good reason" rhetoric; reasonable people can see the real reasons for their zealotry.

As for Bnakat, the observer, he is a hit & run poster; he never sticks around to defend his asinine allegations or his dubious diatribes. The guy is more of a snarky sniper than a dedicated debater. We do not see any LTE's from Bnakat...is that due to lethargy, lack of creativity or fear of being criticized?

Again, great letter, Mr. Burch.

By: govskeptic on 2/4/11 at 5:58

The man is on a mission, so we'll get these letters critizing Nashville
Citizens and voters until doomsday I suppose. "Athens of the
South" was a PR name someone came up with yrs ago, but never
held up very well. It came from the number of Colleges in the area
including Belmont, not so much for the brain power of the majority,
except for Mr. Burch and a few other "enlighted" ones! "other
things Literary", give me a break!

By: Loner on 2/4/11 at 6:11

"Athens of the South"? I thought that expression referred to the Nashville restaurant cuisine...where there's a bit of "Old Grease" in everything they serve....ti kanis?

Maybe "Athens of the South" refers to a penchant for Greek style sex...with all the homophobia in Nashville, that makes more sense.

Any other guesses out there?

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 6:32

Good morning.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 6:33

It appears that Mr. Burch comments is exacerbating to some people. A little fact seems to set off those that would execute this kind of behavior. Bnakat little snipping does add to Mr. Burch argument of the elite attitude toward others with different view on life. I wonder which of the above names bnakat maybe.

By: dargent7 on 2/4/11 at 6:44

Nicely worded, factual LTE.
"bnakat" is right out front, calling homosexuality, "sexual perversion".
You see, Mr. "Bnakat" when you start with a thesis that's 100% moronic, you tend to lose the people you're desperatly attempting to entertain with your lofty vernacular.
No one will give a moment's glance whatever your following talking points are.
There's plently of Christian, right wing rags out there that share your collossal, myopic views.
TCP isn't one of them and I, for one, wish you'd just go away.
Who posts at 2:35am, anyway? Normal people are way deep in Delta.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 6:59

By the 1850’s, Nashville had already earned the nickname of the “Athens of the South” by having established numerous higher education institutions as well as being the first Southern City to establish a public school system. By the end of the century, Nashville would see Fisk University, Saint Cecilia Academy, Montgomery Bell Academy, Meharry Medical College, Belmont University, and Vanderbilt University all open it doors..


By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 7:00

The Parthenon and other buildings, give to the nickname of Nashville.

Did you know that the State Capital Building is design after a Greek Temple with A Greek lighthouse on top of it? The reason is the all capital build in America had towers on them, but there are no Greek temples with towers, so they added the lighthouse.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 7:06

I don’t want him to go, d7. He is a remainder of all the little minds that wonder the dark crevasses in the alleys in Nashville. He has a right to show his irrationally view of the world.

By: dargent7 on 2/4/11 at 7:12

Lord Nemo: I didn't know that historical perspective.
I realize being "gay" in Nashville has got be as exciting as going on a first date with "budlight", but this state will never allow for their rights. Including marriage.
Belmont is taking a first step, but we shall see.

By: dargent7 on 2/4/11 at 7:15

Hey, Big Ben, of the Steelers, (for the girlie posters), took the boys out to a "piano bar" in Dallas last night.
Who knew that Kosh-3 was way ahead of the curve on piano bars, gay or otherwise?

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 7:24

Go Packers!!!!!

By: gdiafante on 2/4/11 at 7:49

"Athens of the South"

I agree. The attitude/beliefs of some that live here is Greek to me.

By: global_citizen on 2/4/11 at 8:07

bnakat, you object to the comparison of anti-gay bigotry and racism as many conservatives do. I've always suspected those who so object do so in an attempt to get a very valid analogy out of the discussion. Yet a valid analogy is a valid analogy. When people are motivated by ignorance and animosity, what does it matter if their target is blacks or gays? Society benefits from an enlightened populace.

As for separation of church and state, I've noticed a real push in the last ten years by conservatives to deny that there was ever any intent by the founders to keep church and state separate. Those who push this notion cite (correctly) that the words "separation of church and state" don't appear in the Constitution. But they have to word it just that carefully, because if one looks at "original intent" as constitutional conservatives claim to do, how do they overlook the fact that the very words "separation of church and state" come from a letter written by the hand of one of most revered founders, Thomas Jefferson.

The conservative argument on this point is dishonest sophistry hanging by a thread onto semantics and is being exploited as if it were as big as John Hancock's signature.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 8:43

Today temperature

Anchorage 31°F and Dallas 19.9 °F

By: revo-lou on 2/4/11 at 8:45

bnakat - LONG time no see! I have migrated back somewhat from the other local posting spot due to their recent format change which is just horrendous. You should post more often ,this board could surely use it. Besides, smacking at “loner” and d7 and ben, is just plain fun! As always your post are insightful, articulate, and put forth your feelings very purposefully. But, also, as it often seems, you and I will disagree.

Rights are given by people, to people. Your “basic” rights mean nothing to those that don’t acknowledge or abide by them.

Now, from a religious (yours) point, you may be very correct in that being gay is unacceptable, and therefore by default so would be any “union” thereof. But, if one removes the religious aspect, which seems like a fair request, the only argument is ones preference, which of course, should not trump “basic” human rights.

I am not sure I agree with the writers analogies, but, I understand why he used them. Personally, I have always thought positions stand better in the own merit, as opposed to comparisons, no matter what the oppression.

By: revo-lou on 2/4/11 at 8:48

[By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 8:43
Today temperature

Anchorage 31°F and Dallas 19.9 °F]

That is because all the cold air has been SUCKED down to the lower 48!!

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 8:58

And it has nothing to do with Global Warming. lol

By: dargent7 on 2/4/11 at 10:14

Maui, Hawai'i: 82 at 9:00am.

By: gdiafante on 2/4/11 at 10:15

I'd rather be in Dallas.

By: dargent7 on 2/4/11 at 10:25

I'd rather be on the set of "Keeping up with the Kardashians".
I can't wait to see who Kim or Chloe "date" next.
Or, watch Bruce Jenner become more emasculated in an hour than allowed by nature.

By: gdiafante on 2/4/11 at 10:39

If I wanted to watch a trainwreck I'd rent The Fugitive or that Denzel Washington flick...

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 10:48

I am with you gdia. I am so tired of seeing the trailers for the so-call reality shows. Give me a good fictional or documentary any time.

By: BenDover on 2/4/11 at 11:30

So... how are my fellow master debators doing today?

By: revo-lou on 2/4/11 at 11:37

Hello, Ben,this is "zanies", please DON'T ever call us!

By: gdiafante on 2/4/11 at 11:56

Ok Ben...some of the posts are rubbing me the wrong way, though.

By: dargent7 on 2/4/11 at 12:23

28 comments...I remember the old days when this paper would get upwards of 500.
No one with any class or dignity even bothers anymore.

By: Loner on 2/4/11 at 12:56

Speaking of people with neither class nor dignity...old Loner is now online @ Java Junction, Brockport, NY.

So, what's your pleasure?

By: BenDover on 2/4/11 at 1:05

Loner! Love you man! Anything that does not involve those evil Zionists.

By: BenDover on 2/4/11 at 1:08

Darge, I was just turned off by the stupid and perpetual, homosexaulity is a civil right theme back again today.

By: Loner on 2/4/11 at 1:14

Poor Ben, burned out on talk about Zionism and homosexuality...me too.

God, Guns, Gays and Guvmint...the 4G-s. Or should we open things up a bit?

How about adding a fifth G?

By: Loner on 2/4/11 at 1:40

Maybe, "G" for Gridiron?

I like both teams, but I gotta go with the Steelers....closer to home, I guess. I predict a close one....20-17.

Enjoy some Buffalo-style hot wings this Sunday and when you do, remember this: The Buffalo Bills may never win a Super Bowl, but Buffalo-style chicken wings are a winner at every Super Bowl.....it's our greatest contribution to popular American culture......Enjoy!

By: BenDover on 2/4/11 at 1:41


By: Loner on 2/4/11 at 1:42

I gotta go now, this is a public terminal...some hot-looking GILF is eyeing the keybpoard.


By: BenDover on 2/4/11 at 1:44

Grandmother... good one, Lone one... enjoy.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 1:58

If people do like or get tired of a subject then they should not get on.

By: Kosh III on 2/4/11 at 2:28

What about the chilling effect of business when the cops routinely harrass and arrest women who are merely trying to make a living by selling a physical service. Not, they are not football players, their physical service is much more fun.
Why don't you "conservatives" get off the backs of these small businesses? O yeah, I forgot, many of them prefer to see the back. :)

By: BenDover on 2/4/11 at 3:10

Hume would argue that morality is not the product of reason but rather the long and often forgotten lessons of the emotional human experience. To throw out these hard learned lessons based on the purity of the reason of one generation would seem to be an arrogant and dangerous act inviting moral relativism. Would it be an advancement or digression? I don't know but I would be very cautious about throwing out the idea of legal precedent from our courts even given their recent and relatively well recorded reasoning of the decisions compared to western society's long evolving and maturing mores and culture.

A young man, when asked by his wife or girlfriend if a certain dress makes her look fat might offer the truth and reason of the moment in the form of a response like, “no sweetheart, it’s your enormous @$$ that makes you look fat”. But in most cases that young man will pick himself up off the floor and learn from the bloody battle that the wisdom of experience often trumps logic and reason. Such is the advancement of society that must not be ignored in the myopic view of reason of the day.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 3:15

If a young man asks his wife to do a certain thing again and she replies that she would never do a thing like that, then he better have a good lie.

By: AmyLiorate on 2/4/11 at 4:24

Kosh, go get 'em!

By: Captain Nemo on 2/4/11 at 4:32

Hello Amy. Where have you been all day?

By: jonescry on 2/4/11 at 6:56

Thank you Mr. Burch, on so many levels. You show so much character that you truly must be a Native Nashvillian. My family has lived here over 200 years and I can say that the religious freaks that moved here 100 years ago and since really need to find a new home. Their hatred and small mindedness is not reflective of the grit and knowledge of the true first families of this great town which led to the moniker "Athens of the South". It wasn't until this decade that people of equal caliber have moved here in great numbers. Thanks be to God.

Separation of church and state? What about breaking tax law which Lifeway is doing hosting this meeting which is a political meeting. Something that tax exemption "religious" organizations are not allowed to do. THAT would make a great investigative report regardless of your opinion on this issue.

By: jonescry on 2/4/11 at 7:04

To Cpt. Nemo - one of the many "facts" that you have wrong is that Dr. Lindsay first described Nashville as "Athens of the South" in the 1840s - not 1850s. You really shouldn't post based on a cursory web search.

You may also want to spend a little more time researching the history of marriage in this country and within the Christian faith AND with our country's Founding Fathers. You will be surprised at what you learn.

A democracy requires that it's citizens gather facts PRIOR to forming an opinion. This is more important that serving your country (which by the way I did for 10 years). You need to spend much more time gathering information than posting quite embarrassing posts on news sites.

As someone who is very proud of her Nashville heritage, my I sincerely express my hope that you are not from my town.

By: BenDover on 2/4/11 at 7:49

Ahhh, blow it out your @$$ Jonesy.

By: Loner on 2/5/11 at 8:19

I'm with the Captain on this one. The arrogance and smug certitude of this high "caliber" aristocrat, jonescry, is a turn-off to me. Captain Nemo was a few years off in his facts, no biggie. The man is a Starship Commander; what's a few earth years to a man like that?

I do agree with jonescry about the tax-exempt status of Lifeway being in jeopardy. Contact the ACLU or the Southern Poverty Law Center for advice on how to register an official complaint. An e-mail to the IRS, with a link to the NCP story on this topic, might be enough to start an investigation.....somebody's gotta drop the dime.

By: Loner on 2/5/11 at 9:06

BTW, Jonescry, Nashville ought to be proud to have a man like Captain Nemo as a native son. He is a concerned citizen who gets involved. Not only that, he is a hard-worker and a great dad. I happen to have met the Captain and he's a first-class guy.

By: yogiman on 2/5/11 at 11:48

Hey, Loner, is Nashville supposed to be ashamed to have me as a native son? I was born there before him, don't I deserve senior consideration?

By: yogiman on 2/5/11 at 12:20

If jonescry is as brilliant as he/she seems to think, maybe he/she can read this statement faster then many others. It is interesting that only boys seem to raise their hands when questioned. So, girls, how many of your hands are raised?

eonvrye taht can raed tihs rsaie yuor hnad. Only great minds can read the following. Its weird, but interesting.

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid, too. Can yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

I cdn'uolt blveive taht I cluod aulacity uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are. The olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! If you can raed tish forwrad it. If not, tsrah it.